Project Administrator – Politics and Governance

from Overseas Development Institute
Closing date: 27 Oct 2019

Contract: Fixed-term contract until 1 June 2021

Salary: £23,528 - £28,490 per annum

Location: London

Ref: POGO/07/19

An independent, global think tank, working for a sustainable

and peaceful world in which every person thrives.

About us

ODI is an independent, global think tank, working for a sustainable and peaceful world in which every person thrives. We harness the power of evidence and ideas through research and partnership to confront challenges, develop solutions and create change. (

We are looking for a Project Administrator to join the Politics and Governance team, assisting with the day to day development, management and administration of the Learning, Evidence and Advocacy Partnership (LEAP), a large new grant managed by ODI. The project is in Nigeria, but you will be based out of our head office in London

About the Politics and Governance team

Within ODI, the Politics and Governance team combines innovative research and advisory work to address how politics and power shape development.

Too often, aid fails to help poor and vulnerable people because it assumes that development is a technical issue: building roads, training teachers, feeding refugees, etc. But development is never just technical. A road can be built, but whom does it serve? Teachers can be trained, but are they in school? Refugees can be fed, but can they ever return home? These and other issues are intimately bound up with struggles over resources and ideas, winners, losers, and the politics of ‘Who gets what, when, and how’. In ODI, we help partners understand and navigate the politics of the places they work and the issues they deal with, identifying levers for change that can deliver on aid’s promise of empowering the poor. We want to move the discussion from what happens to why it happens, from what should be done to what can be done, and how it can be done most effectively.

We are a team of 20 political scientists, anthropologists, economists, and historians who apply a range of approaches, from political economy analysis, to large household surveys, to behavioural science, to provide ideas on three core areas:

  • understanding political contestation of, within and outside the state;
  • articulating how incentives, narratives, perceptions and behaviour shape politics, policy making and development practice; and
  • supporting policy-makers and practitioners to put into practice the principles of doing development differently, based on our research.

We have backgrounds in public sector governance and service delivery; justice, security and rule of law; citizenship, democracy and political participation; conflict and peacebuilding; and migration and displacement. Some of the questions we’re asking include: why are educated people with jobs willing to use violence to change society? Why do people and communities move across borders or from one place to another? How can we promote universal access to good quality services? How can policy makers actually use evidence to create transformative policies? Why does aid money often fail to deliver change?

Three of our other large ongoing projects include:

  • The Global Learning for Adaptive Management initiative (GLAM), funded by the Department for International Development and the United States Agency for International Development, GLAM is a globally networked learning alliance that aims to actively identify, operationalise and promote rigorous evidence-based approaches to adaptive management.
  • Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium a ten-year global research programme that aims to strengthen the evidence base and inform policy and practice around livelihoods, basic services and social protection in conflict-affected situations. It works in South Sudan, Uganda, DRC, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • Mignex is a five-year research project (2018–2023) with the core ambition of creating new knowledge on migration, development and policy. It involves researchers at nine institutions in Europe, Africa and Asia. We want to understand and explain how migration and development affect each other in complex ways.

Some of our recent publications include:

In addition to research we offer a range of advisory services to development partners and programmes, including: embedded political economy analysis and/or learning accompaniment/strategy testing; research-driven advice on programme design, theories of change and MEL systems; innovative communications and digital outputs; capacity building and training.

About the project

This role is specific to a large grant that we will be managing over the next two years called the Learning, Evidence and Advocacy Partnership, which is funded by DFID Nigeria. LEAP will be a core project for the Politics and Governance team, furthering our agenda to help development actors design and deliver programmes in a way that is problem-driven, politically smart, and locally led, and which can be ‘adaptive’ in a rigorous and meaningful way, especially at scale.

LEAP is part of the Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL), a five-year DFID-funded governance programme (2016-2021). PERL’s objective is to support governments of Nigeria (Federal, State and Local Government) to reform core governance processes and to ensure that these improvements feed through into the improved delivery of public goods and services.

ODI will be working with DFID Nigeria and the PERL team, to act as a learning adviser and to carry out cutting edge research. Key activities include:

  • Supporting learning and documenting outcomes through flagship case studies and targeted sub-national research
  • Communication of learning, building dissemination networks within Nigeria, across DFID, and globally.

About you

You’ll be providing administrative and project management support to LEAP, working closely with the LEAP Project Manager, playing a major role in delivering LEAP successfully.

We’d love it if you had an interest in public sector reform and voice and accountability issues. These could include how government bureaucracies work, learn and adapt; the politics and mechanics of government policy making, cross-government collaboration and lesson learning; or in the relationship between the state and the people. It would be great if you had an interest in how international actors interact with those dynamics in a meaningful way through development programming, especially at scale. Experience or interest in Nigeria or West Africa is a plus.

We hope you’ll feel confident in supporting the Project Manager and wider team to manage a large development project. You’ll have a good head for numbers, taking on the contracting, invoicing and budget tracking for LEAP. You’ll be responsible for invoicing, donor financial reporting, organising project meetings, and support the Project Manager in setting up agile project management and reporting systems and policies. In addition to general project support, you’ll play a key role in knowledge management for the project, facilitating the flow of information internally between project staff and central support departments and externally with a variety of stakeholders. This will involve managing partnerships with consultants and organisations in Nigeria.

You’ll like being embedded in agile teams, talking to many different people every day, handling delicate external communication by email, and negotiating our internal systems to get things done. You’ll particularly like coordinating large, dispersed teams, getting workshops and events together and get a kick out of helping our team see tasks all the way through to the very end.

LEAP’s an adaptive project itself, and team members benefit from having a learning mindset and accepting and bouncing back from failure and being willing to express how they feel and be sensitive to others.

What will you get out of working with us? We’re a hub advising other organisations on how to manage complex adaptive programmes, so we’re a good place to be if you’d like to hone your management skills. You’ll have great exposure to lessons learned through public sector reform and in adaptive programmes. We also are a team in which managers engage directly in substantive conversations, share their opinions, and participate in driving our agendas forward.

Some other basics about you (see our job description for more):

  • Educated to degree level.
  • High level of numeracy
  • Excellent organisational and administrative skills

  • Strong experience in monitoring budgets.

  • Excellent communication skills, including good written and spoken English.

  • Multitasking skills in a high-pressure environment.

  • Ability to work to work under pressure and to strict deadlines.

  • Advanced IT skills including Excel, Word, Outlook, PowerPoint and databases.

  • Knowledge of a language other than English is desirable, as well as an interest in international development and humanitarian issues.

Closing date: 27 October 2019

Interview Date: 06 November 2019

How to apply:

For more information, please download an application pack from our website . If you are experiencing difficulties downloading, please telephone 020 7922 8234 /0351 or email

Please note ODI has a legal responsibility to ensure that all its employees have the right to live and work in the UK. Therefore, if you are made an offer of employment, this will be subject to us verifying that you are eligible to work in the UK before you start work.

ODI is an equal opportunities employer

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